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ObamaCare a success or failure? Depends where you live

 

As the administration looks to declare ObamaCare's first enrollment period a success, whether the health law is a winner or loser really depends on where you live. 

Insurance rates vary on a state-by-state basis. So, whether premiums rise or hold steady on the heels of the Affordable Care Act open enrollment will hinge, in each state, on several factors. 

Did the state sign up enough people? What are the demographics in the state? And did enough young and healthy participants sign up to cover the costs of insuring older, less-healthy enrollees? 

Live in, say, Colorado or Connecticut? You're in luck. 

According to a Department of Health and Human Services report released on March 11, the top-performing states for overall sign-ups included Colorado, whose target number was 73,600 enrollees and got 83,469; Connecticut, which aimed for 26,400 and attracted 57,465; and Florida, which targeted 381,600 and got 442,087. 

But for every state performing well, another state is woefully behind. 

The worst performers included Oregon, which targeted 189,600 but got 38,806; Washington, which sought 272,000 and attracted 107,262; and New Mexico, which sought 66,400 and got 15,012. 

In each state, perhaps the most important factor is the mix of people joining the insurance exchanges. Nationally, the administration was aiming for roughly 40 percent in the coveted 18-34-year-old demographic. 

Recent stats suggest just a quarter, though, fall into that younger age group. 

"I do think this will be a problem," said Betsy McCaughey, author of the book "Beating Obamacare 2014: Avoid the Landmines and Protect Your Health, Income, and Freedom." 

At the state level, Utah, Kansas, Louisiana and South Dakota were all doing well in attracting younger enrollees. The District of Columbia did better than all of them, with 45 percent of participants in that prime demographic. 

But in Oregon, whose state-run site was among the worst in the country, just 18 percent of those signing up were between 18 and 34 years old. Hawaii, Arizona and Maine did almost as poorly in that regard. 

McCaughey, also a former New York lieutenant governor, told FoxNews.com that Americans might never know whether the government failed to attract the right mix of enrollees -- because officials could quietly stabilize premium rates by continuing to subsidize them with federal dollars. 

Edmund F. Haislmaier, an expert in health care policy for the conservative Heritage Foundation, agrees with McCaughey that government subsidies to enrollees and insurance companies will likely hold down premium costs. 

"There will be no death spiral because everything will be subsidized out the wazoo or the back door," he told FoxNews.com. 

He also thinks the big concern is in the percentage of people who are buying the gold, platinum, silver and bronze policies. 

Haislmaier says 67 percent of those who have enrolled in ObamaCare have chosen the largely cost-efficient, full-coverage silver plan because they need medical treatment -- and that 94 percent of those plans are subsidized. 

"That's where I think there is a disproportional number of sick people," he said.